Boreham Wood manager Luke Garrard described his sides win over Bristol Rovers as dominant. The 37-year-old masterminded a 2-0 win over the Gas, despite his side being 43 places below them in the English pyramid ladder.
First-half goals from Will Evans and David Stephens inside a strong 15-minute spell in the first half hour was enough for them to dispatch a below-par Rovers side that were second best. It forced Barton’s hand as the Rovers boss made four changes at the break in search of a response.
It did not have the desired effect with the hosts unable to pull a goal back that would have set up a grandstand finish at the Memorial Stadium. After a lot of huffing and puffing they were unable to transform their possession into any clear cut chances.
“I think that we were very productive today,” said Garrard to BristolWorld. “I felt that the four changes that Bristol Rovers made at half time shows you where Joey Barton saw things in terms of the first half,” Garrard said.
“These things for me are massive, because if we play Bristol Rovers ten times back-to-back, they would win eight minimum, maybe draw one and then we win the odd one.”
Rovers came into the match off the back of one defeat in their last twelve and were ranked as clear favourites given their Football League status. However it was a clear opposite for the away side, having not won in the national league in six.
Despite their long odds, it was the side two leagues below that had the better of the chances and came out deserving to progress in the FA Cup.
Garrard added: “It’s a one off game, the form guide goes out the window, they were on an upturn in terms of their form and we’d not won in five in the league and the cup gives you a welcome distraction from the league.”
“I thought that we were quite dominant, we stifled them, they didn’t really penetrate us and we looked a threat on all set plays and this is stuff that i spoke about.”
“I would’ve been happy to go into tomorrow’s draw with Bristol Rovers and have a replay because of their great recent form but to come here and beat them is fantastic.
To come to Bristol Rovers and beat them 2-0, I’m ecstatic because we go into the draw tomorrow night and we’re a solo ball.
Both of Boreham Wood’s goals came from uncleared set-pieces. Garrard’s men were able to force a corner-kick on the counter-attack from a Rovers set-piece and punished them from it. George Broadbent was unmarked on the edge of the box and his directed shot deflected off of Evans’ midriff.
It was two on the half-hour mark as a long-throw was launched into the box and the hosts failed to clear their lines. Femi Ilesanmi’s cross found Stephens who’s looping header beat James Belshaw.
Before the match, Garrard’s game plan involved exploiting Rovers’ vulnerability at defending set-pieces. 27% of their goals conceded have come from set-pieces, whilst 15% have been from penalties.
He revealed: “I spoke about 40% of their goals conceded coming from set plays and we worked on it yesterday in training. I lost my head yesterday in training when we weren’t doing it right because I knew that any set piece opportunity we could score from.”
“You’re playing a side two leagues above, you know you have to play a 9/10, 10/10 to ensure that you get a win, it’s a mindset and I’m big on mindsets.”
Boreham Wood rightfully so deserved the plaudits after the match from the local and national media. A section of the home supporters booed their team off at the half-time whistle and there were chants of ‘This is embarrassing’.
Several home supporters stayed at the full-time whistle to applaud the opposition off given the manner of their performance. Boreham Wood were in complete control with five of their 15 shots landing on target, compared to Rovers’ two from 17 attempts.
“I’m full throttle on the side of the pitch, and I’ve got fans caning me all game,” Garrard said. I am relentless but with five to play, there were a few gentlemen behind me saying fair play, you’ve done ever so well today.
“I’m going to love tonight, I’m going to get back on the bus and have many beers because what we’ve achieved as a club, as a town is incredible.
“Joey Barton is a fantastic manager and he’s got a fantastic team. There were changes to their team today and if they had gone through today and got Newcastle their levels would go up. I spoke to my media team and if I could bottle that, I’d get promoted year on year. This is the mindset and the mentality of my group.”